DUBAI: If you had asked Israeli businessman Yehonatan Ben Hamozeg earlier this year where he´d be pitching his palm tree saving technology in October, there was no chance he would have said the United Arab Emirates.
But after a surprise US-backed normalisation agreement between the UAE and Israel, the soft-spoken, grey-haired entrepreneur found himself doing just that in a Dubai hotel last week.
Ben Hamozeg is the founder and chief executive of Agrint, a company that uses seismic sensors to detect insects that eat – and destroy – palm trees from the inside.
He was one of the 13 business leaders who joined a four-day trip to the UAE organised by Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), a venture capitalist firm.
Before normalisation, there had been discreet links between the Gulf nation and Israel´s flourishing high-tech sector.
But after the deal brokered by US President Donald Trump, who is seeking re-election on Tuesday, those links have come to the surface and are poised to expand.
“We´re learning, we´re opening our eyes, friendships and personal ties are being formed,” said JVP founder Erel Margalit, who led the Israeli delegation.
Charismatic and gregarious, Margalit is one of Israel´s top venture capitalists, having backed more than 150 technology start-ups.
He insisted the UAE´s potential for Israel´s economy is vast, both in terms of direct partnerships in the financial, tech and food sectors, but also as a portal to Arab markets still cut off from the Jewish state.
“Israel can now work with the region rather than being closed to it. For us, it´s a huge opportunity,” he said. “We want to use this breakthrough to start a new chapter in the region.”